FAQs About African Dwarf Frogs in General
Related Articles: Keeping African Clawed Frogs and African
Dwarf Frogs by Neale Monks, African Dwarf Frogs, Amphibians, Turtles,
Related FAQs: Dwarf
African Frogs 1, ADF
Identification, ADF Behavior,
ADF Compatibility, ADF Selection, ADF
Systems, ADF Feeding, ADF Disease, ADF
Reproduction, & FAQs on: Amphibians 1, Amphibians 2, Frogs Other Than African and Clawed,
African Clawed Frogs, Turtles, Amphibian Identification, Amphibian Behavior, Amphibian Compatibility, Amphibian Selection, Amphibian Systems, Amphibian Feeding, Amphibian Disease, Amphibian Reproduction,
Dwarf frogs; gen., sys. 4/14/18
I just got 5 dwarf frogs today.
I'm new to them but did research and had the tank set up properly.
<Cool. Let me direct you to some reading first of all, here:
Although essentially easy to keep, especially in a nice big tank like yours,
they do pose a couple of challenges. Water chemistry doesn't matter much, but
they do need tropical temperatures (not room temperature!) and they do need good
water quality (via a gentle filter of some sort). Unless you happen to live in
the tropics, you'll need a heater set to 25 C/77 F to keep them warm, and
ideally that heater should be protected with a 'heater guard' that ensures the
frogs can't burn themselves. Some aquarium heaters come with the heater guard
already: it's a curved, mesh-like plastic thing that clips onto the heater.
Definitely worth choosing a heater that has one. So far as filtration goes, a
small internal canister is fine, as are air-powered sponge or box filters. I'd
avoid hang-on-the-back filters because these require large open spaces in the
hood that the frogs can escape through.>
It’s a 10gallon with only the frogs, a clay pot, hidey, and silk flowers. It has
a bubble stone and a filter-however I can’t use it right now because the current
is too strong.
<Do see above and choose the appropriate sort of filter design. Healthy frogs
are not feeble swimmers, so a canister filter or box filter rated for an 8-10
gallon system should be fine. Of course if the frogs are half-starved they may
struggle a bit -- some filters have dials that allow you to turn down the flow
rate, and that would be helpful.>
My concern is that since putting them in the tank, 3 float on top and don’t stay
down even when nudged down, and two stay still on the bottom. Is this normal for
<It is normal for these frogs to bask at the surface of the tank, often under
the lamp, warming themselves up a bit.>
Do they need a de-stressing period?
<The addition of floating plants will help enormously here; floating Indian
Fern, sometimes called Water Sprite, is the ideal choice. Such plants provide
shade and shelter. Bear in mind these frogs come from dark, shady habitats and
don't like wide open spaces all that much.>
They won’t eat.
<What are you offering them? The dried pellet foods are sometimes rejected, and
initially at least, things like frozen bloodworms and live daphnia may work
better. My frogs would also eat tiny bits of fish and shrimp.>
Ammonia levels are 0,
ph is around 6.4-6.8.
<A trifle low, but probably not a big deal.>
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Dwarf frogs 4/15/18
Thanks so much for your help!
Sadly, I lost 3 froggies but the other 2 seem to be doing ok.
I went today and got a new heater, the filter you suggested, and some live
plants. I still can’t get them to eat though.
<They will when they're settled. But bear in mind three key things: Firstly,
they're largely nocturnal by preference, and won't feed in bright, open area
unless they're thoroughly settled. Secondly, they hunt as much by smell as
anything else. This means if you put too much food in the tank it becomes hard
for them to find the food, so a small amount in one concentrated area is better
than lots of food spread around the aquarium. Finally, they have little to no
interest in dried foods, at least initially. Tempt them with either small live
foods or their (wet) frozen equivalents. I'd leave newly-purchased frogs for the
first night unfed, and thereafter offer them, once a day, small amounts of small
live foods, such as live bloodworms or mosquito larvae collected from a local
pond. Remove any uneaten particles of food. Repeat until the frogs are obviously
feeding, and then over the next week or two, try weaning them onto (dried)
I’m feeding them freeze dried bloodworms and ReptoMin sinking aquatic frog
granules. I’ve tried putting the food right in front of their faces but they
don’t take it, just swim away. Any tips?
I got a couple of African dwarfs and immediately fell in love. We had
them in a 3 gallon tank, no filter and managed to keep them alive for 5 months
with daily water changes and watching ammonia very carefully.
<Understood. But do review their needs:
Although basically easy to keep, their long-term care does require a few things
to be 'just right' otherwise they will slowly starve, chill, or otherwise die.>
I think i have gone overboard testing ph twice a day ammonia once a day, and the
tank obviously never cycled.
<Indeed not; without a filter, ammonia will simply accumulate between water
Anyways I went crazy and got a 20 Gallon, Fluval 106 Filter, an Anubias and
hornwort live plants, and Fluval Shrimp Substrate (Very expensive and the
salesperson suggested it.)
<It's a good substrate for certain situations. It is not chemically inert, which
in my book is a no-no for easy fishkeeping! It (apparently) reduces the pH and
hardness, which requires you to buffer the water to prevent pH
changes. That's fine if you want low hardness and neutral to acidic pH levels,
and you're buffering the water accordingly (for example with a commercial Discus
buffer) but for ordinary fishkeeping, this is one more hassle. Probably not a
deal-breaker if you have 'liquid rock' water with a very high alkalinity and a
basic pH, but if you have softish water, this could be a nuisance. On the other
hand, it is also designed to be a biologically active substrate almost like
filter media, so ideal for tanks with little to no filtration -- albeit tanks
with very low loading, i.e., shrimps, where low rates of biological filtration
is acceptable. Not an alternative to filtration with frogs or fish.>
So, I have been trying to cycle the system for almost 2 months, nada. I put the
waste water from changes into the new tank for over a month with no change 0.25
- 1.0 Ammonia,0 Nitrites,0 Nitrates.
<Water contains few filter bacteria. What you want to add is gravel from a
mature tank, or alternatively, some live filter medium taken from an established
aquarium. Either way, the filter bacteria come attached to solid things, like
gravel and sponges.>
We ended up putting the frogs in and they seem happy, but I have found my ph s
staying at 6.0 - 6.2, after water changes, I have tried various methods,
changing 20% water every second day, ph increase(i know you don't
suggest that) 50% water changes once a week. Even if I get the ph to 7.0 - 7.2
in one day it is back to 6.0. My guess is it is the Fluval substrate, as I have
found out it is for lower ph systems.
The plants love it and flourish, the frogs seem ok, but I worry its too low.
<It is a bit low for the frogs, which will be happier around a neutral pH, but
provided the pH doesn't go below 6, it's not dangerous. I would suggest
purchasing a neutral pH buffer, adding to each new batch of water when you do
water changes, and seeing if that steadies the pH around 6.5-7, which is ideal.>
Should I remove the substrate and go with sand or gravel?
<If you've invested a lot in the Fluval substrate, you could certainly persist,
though with the addition of some commercially available buffer.
But you could also switch to something chemically inert, like smooth silver sand
(often called pool filter sand) if you prefer an easier life and don't mind
setting the Fluval sand aside for another project. Spread it out on some
newspaper under the sunshine, and it'll dry out quickly, and you can then store
it until you need it again.>
I got a male for the two females, but we lost him, I feel this was because of
the ph level.
<pH changes will certainly stress, potentially kill, the frogs. But do also
review water quality, and more crucially, diet -- most frogs die from starvation
than anything else. A varied diet is important.>
Thanks for any advice!!
Webmaster ~ J.
Care questions for African Dwarf Frogs
I had a large tank full of ADFs several decades ago (30 gallon tank with 15-20
frogs) and loved it back then. I recently decided that a small tank with a
couple of frogs would be a fun Christmas present for my kids to enjoy. Right
now, we have a 3 gallon Marineland “Nook” tank with two frogs and one small
(about 5 mm) Horned Nerite Snail to take care of any algae since there isn’t
room for big tank in our current location.
<Understood. Nonetheless, would recommend a bigger tank, even 5-8 gallons would
make a big difference.>
I initially had the filter power/speed near the highest setting because that’s
what the instructions in the box said to do, but I noticed that the frogs seemed
to be very disturbed and unhappy with the rapid water movement on the high
setting as it would frequently grab them and throw them to the bottom of the
tank, and then they would panic and hide for an extended time. I turned the
water flow setting on the filter almost all the way down and they have been a
lot happier and acting normal swimming around and doing “froggy Zen poses” while
<Correct. Keep the water flow rate gentle, and ensure the frogs can easily swim
to the surface to gulp air.>
Their diet consists of a mix of freeze dried brine shrimp and live or frozen
bloodworms. I know that live food is best,
<No it's not! You're doing fine, but I'd be wary of freeze-dried foods because
these do tend to cause constipation in small animals. Regular frozen foods are
but it can be difficult to obtain in our area since I have only found one small
pet shop that carries live worms, and they are frequently out of stock. and the
frozen bloodworms are very messy, so I have the shrimp so I can let the kids
feed the frogs some of the time.
<Defrost the frozen foods in a small container, like an old egg cup, then use
forceps or even chopsticks to pull out a few at a time. You can then decant any
of the crud left behind down the drain.>
The diet seems to be working OK for the frogs as they are growing very quickly,
and they actually seem to be more active and aggressively ‘hunt’ the shrimp
while they just wait for the worms to come to them. In the 7 weeks since we set
up the tank, the frogs have grown to more than twice their initial size and
appear to be nearly full grown now, and based on identification guides it looks
like we have one male and one female.
Water quality tests using Marineland’s 6-in-1 test strips that came with the
tank say that there is zero Nitrates, zero Nitrites, 150ppm Hardness (Hard),
zero Chlorine, about 150ppm Alkalinity, and about 7.4.-7.6 pH. A Tetra HT10
submersible heater keeps the water at a constant 78 degrees.
<All sounds fine.>
The frogs do seem to be doing well, but I have a couple of questions to make
sure they have the best environment we can give them since I am either finding
conflicting information online, or no info at all, and I can’t remember the
exact details from when I had the big tank a long time ago. First, is the steady
but fairly low water movement from the filter OK since it’s a rather small tank,
or would it be best to turn up the power a bit to increase the filtration and
just let the frogs deal with being tossed around somewhat when they swim right
under the waterfall?
<Gentler the better. So long as nitrite is zero, your filter is doing fine.>
Second, the water in our home is fairly hard and I wonder if the hard water is
OK for the frogs or if I should use a water conditioner before doing 1/4 tank
water changes every week or two.
<Hard water is fine.>
Third, I have found various sites that say the ‘ideal’ pH for African Dwarf
Frogs should be anywhere from 6.0 to 7.8. Is the current pH of 7.4-7.6 a good
range or should I use a pH balancer to get it closer to or lower than 7.0?
<Do not, DO NOT add these pH potions to your aquarium. More likely to do harm
Finally, my wife and kids want to add another pair of frogs to the tank and I’m
wondering if that would be OK as long as we keep it clean and stick with regular
water changes, or are 4 frogs too many for a well maintained 3 gallon tank? A
bigger tank would be better, of course, but isn’t really an option right now.
<You could likely get away with it, but honestly, I'd be shopping for a 5 gallon
tank which would be a lot better. A gallon per frog is not generous at all, but
workable, so 4-5 frogs in a 5 gallon tank would be okay.>
Thank you for your helpful site!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Care questions for African Dwarf Frogs
Thank you for the quick response and the helpful information!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Inherited African Dwarf Frogs
A month and a half ago I inherited two ADF's from my 5yr old son's classroom.
His teacher bought one of those tiny cubed setups which after extensive research
I now see are incredibly inhumane. I had no idea what I was getting into prior
to agreeing to my son bringing them home at the beginning of summer. I have zero
experience with aquatics, have never owned
fish or frogs in my 32 yrs. The teacher indicated their setup from
http://www.wildcreations.com/shop, was very easy, minimal water changes
(once every few months), and feeding frog pellets (twice/week),
<No and no>
and that was it. These little guys (I believe one guy and one gal) were
relatively fine for the first month, though a few weeks ago I noticed their
bodies turning red (arms and legs),
yet disappeared a few days later. Yesterday, it was back and very bright in
color, so I started to research. Many, many hours and countless websites and
articles later I now know there is more to it and am doing my best to provide a
more humane existence and hopefully help them if they are ill.
I currently have them in a 1 gallon fishbowl
<Too hard to keep stable and optimized. Need a tank and filtration as covered
as my step father offered it to me in lieu of the cube after bringing them home.
I have been doing daily water changes as it gets extremely murky after their
feeds of frozen bloodworms every other day.
<Please; do the above reading, NOW>
I have never tested the water and did not know I had to until today when I read
about ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. I also had no idea about "cycling"
until today. I have been completely removing the frogs from their bowl and doing
100% water changes so I can rinse the gravel, bamboo plant, little rocks and
house that consist of their habitat. I feel horrible that
I have been putting them through so much stress and trauma over and over
unwittingly. I again had no idea this causes the tank to have to cycle
all over again, likely spiking and lowering the pH level, etc- which is torture
to these frogs.
So, moving forward I would like to get them a proper living environment. I am on
a *very* fixed income as I am single, sole support mother who works 3 part time
jobs. I cannot simply pop over to a pet store and make hundred dollar purchases
without adequate planning and budgeting.
<I suggest Craig's List... gifting these animals to someone who has time, the
I will get them a proper tank with a filter and heater, but I would appreciate
some input on what is the best, most cost efficient set up (keeping in mind that
we live in a very small apartment and cannot house a 10 gallon tank). My son and
I bicycled to the pet store yesterday and saw a 2.65 g tank with a proper filter
What is your opinion on this?
<Better to make your own set up... can be done in any chemically inert
container. Perhaps you can look on Craig's List in turn for a used tank, gear>
From what I've read, most of the issues folks seem to have with smaller
aquariums and their aquatic life is inadequate filtering. The water temp is
currently at 74. Is this OK, until I can also purchase a heater?
In terms of the body redness, today it seems to be gone and the frogs do not
have other symptoms so I am unsure whether it is "red leg", an "opportunistic
bacterial infection", or stress related from the water changes and likely
<All of the above>
They seem quite depressed, yet have very good appetites, thankfully. Also, when
they first came home, the male would sing in the evenings. He no longer does
this but I am hopeful if there has not been too much internal damage, they might
resume healthy behaviors and even mate.
Please share any and all thoughts.
<The reading for now (and linked files above), then careful consideration of a
workable path. Bob Fenner>
Re: Inherited African Dwarf Frogs 8/16/15
Yes I have read the link (and about a hundred others on your website since
yesterday), hence my statement that I am looking to get them a filtered
The question that I had is if I do purchase a small tank (i.e.. 2.65 g), with
adequate filtration, will that be enough to give them a good quality of life
(with all of the other elements in place that keeping African dwarf frogs
Also you said, "all of the above"- do you believe they have a bacterial
infection, and red leg, despite not showing other symptoms as described when I
research these illnesses?
<Red leg symptomatically is linked.... to environmental issues, expressed BY
bacterial infection. They are interrelated is what I mean/t>
I am a bit confused by your catch all response.
<Clarity is pleasurable. Sorry for the confusion>
Craig's list is an excellent idea, thank you. Making my own set up is also an
<Ah yes; much of the gear used in "commercially made set ups" is inferior, and
not a good bargain>
Regarding having the time and means, taking care of dwarf frogs, from what I've
read is not extremely time consuming, nor expensive- one simply has to be
schooled on how to care for them and their needs. I am considering a "workable
path", which should be quite explicit.
<Correct; simply stating that it appears your time, attention is greatly in
Re: Inherited African Dwarf Frogs 8/16/15
Tonight my adf's were mating!
<Ah yes; you had mentioned the male "singing">
I had never watched it before so was quite fascinated. Although I've noticed two
things: My male's body looks very red all over (along with the very swollen and
protruding white glands under his forearms). Is the redness an evening thing, a
mating thing or my prior fear of some illness?
The female does not look red at all, although there is a pink patch under one of
her forearms that looks raw as though she rubbed it on something.
The second thing I noticed is during their attempted mating (which has happened
a total of three times tonight) the female's legs were crossed and her fins
moving slowly... they were at the bottom of the tank and I was unable to witness
her rise to the top as mating articles suggest. Each time she ended up spasming
quite hard and was able to throw the male off and
then quickly dart to the top herself for a breath of air. My main concern is
that if she is ill, perhaps she is unable to complete the ritual by swimming to
the top with him attached. But, what do I know. This is all quite new to me.
On another note, they absolutely love the earth worms my son caught for them and
I chopped up into small pieces.
I have fed them a few twice today and they swim right over to me when they see
me, mouths snapping open. I am confused as to their apparently otherwise healthy
behavior, if they do have an illness. If the pet store I attended last night had
tetracycline in stock, I likely would have begun administering it as per the
instructions. Luckily they did not. I am left quite unsure of how to proceed
with respects to treating our little ones for an illness, or hope that once
their habitat gets sorted out (water, pH, cleanliness, etc)
<Fix the environment first and foremost; no medications needed, advised>
everything will continue to go up for them health wise. Perhaps the apparent
redness was simply a stress reaction in their fragile bodies. Or, it is the
beginning stages of a fungal infection, as there seems to be very tiny white
spots on their bodies- although again, I have never studied dwarf frogs this
much and so intently, and scrutinized every single inch of their body so
thoroughly- it could be perfectly normal but I would not know. Frustrating
Any and all help clarifying would be greatly appreciated.
<I'd go on with your maintenance procedure, but changing only half at most of
the water at any time... for stored (for a week or more if you have the room,
containers); otherwise the plan for the better system. Bob Fenner>
Re: Inherited African Dwarf Frogs
How long does Amplexus usually last? Last night after my male (Hidey),
successfully mounted Oval (female) 3 times, he then proceeded to sing all
evening and late into the night and try to mount her (unsuccessfully) numerous
times. Right now, I just saw them mating again!
<Mmm; yes.... till... the "act is done", really>
Although still no egg laying at the top, simply him holding onto her and staying
quite still except for a few small swims and then throwing him off again. I just
checked and they are at it again. Is this normal behavior?
<Yes... am hoping with better care (system and nutrition), your frogs are mating
due to "times being good" (vs. bad; which can trigger as well). As with most all
dioecious species (the majority of life on the planet), the male (more motile
gametes) is "ready" to do their part, most all the time... a few days to answer
<And you, B>
Re: Inherited African Dwarf Frogs
Good morning Bob,
Yes you are quite right, my time and attention is in great demand but I
committed to providing a home for these little ones and I intend to.
Not to mention, we have grown quite fond of them. I also love the opportunity to
learn, and this has certainly opened my eyes to the intricacies of aquatic life.
<So very pleasurable>
Today, my little ones are swimming all about- do not seem depressed (hiding) as
they were earlier in the week. Thankfully the earth worms are proving to be a
success and do not muck up the water so I can leave them be for a few days! In
the 1g bowl they are currently in, how often should I change out the water and
how much of it at a time?
<Weekly... half if no filter, a quarter if so>
You mentioned not more than 50% and "for stored (for a week or more if you have
the room, containers);"- are you able to clarify a bit?
<Yes; more to change if water "becomes cloudy"; otherwise, the routine just
While at the pet store Friday I purchased a tap water conditioner (Nutrafin Aqua
plus) and a biological aquarium supplement (Nutrafin Cycle), both of which seem
to have improved the water quality at least for the short term.
The bottle recommends adding some each time I do a water change (but the
prescribed amount is for 10g tanks), would you recommend this also?
Shall I purchase a water tester kit (pH, ammonia, nitrates, etc)?
<If you can easily afford the ammonia, nitrite... yes>
Also, thank you kindly for getting back to me and helping to guide us through
this. In the very near future I will have a much better home for them (bigger
tank, filter, heater), but in the short term, I would like mitigate any harm as
much as possible.
<Certainly welcome. BobF>
Re: Inherited African Dwarf Frogs
I have to say, it is a real pleasure watching these two swim all around their
I understand now why they need more space than a tiny cube. I am now considering
trying to obtain a 5g tank if possible. They are mating constantly, swimming
most of the day and seem quite a bit different than the hiding pair I've had for
the last several weeks (we even named our male after the fact that he hid most
of the time- much more so than the female).
This weekend he has swam more than I've ever seen, and when still, struts his
body and opens his gullet in this comical way just before he makes his call. The
female tries desperately to get away from him it seems. At times she nudges him
with her nose, pushing her body just under his (it is so sweet to watch), and
other times virtually ignores him, swimming away as soon as he approaches.
I don't think they are suffering from a rampant bacterial infection but it
certainly has been a good wake up call to get to know these sweet little
amphibians (as well as opening my eyes to the awful shallowness of companies
that promote and sell tiny prisons-virtually death sentences like the cubed home
they came to me in). I am so glad that just as human bodies
begin to respond to environmental stress, similarly do frogs' (all creatures),
and it can be relatively easy to rectify if properly informed (which it seems
your site does well).
<We are in full agreement>
I appreciate the copious data the website provides and your personalized answers
to my queries.
<Y/our situation describes the very purpose we are about>
<Thank you for sharing. BobF>
ADF Advice 4/19/15
Hi! I got an ADF about 3 weeks ago. The pet store that sold him to me had them
in a community tank with platys and mollies. The salesman basically told me they
are just like caring for the other fish I have except the diet.
<Hmm... not true... actually quite difficult to keep alongside fish. As always:
research prior to purchase. Relying on the pet store guy is almost always a bad
idea, sadly. Do read:
The biggest issues are their small size and preference for live and frozen
They didn't have a book but plenty info online and there was nothing to it.
Clearly I'm not a pro. Here's my what my 10 gallon tank includes (salesman told
me these were all perfect), pair of platys, pair of mollies, Cory cat, Chinese
algae eater and a few fry that haven't gotten big enough to mess up our balance
<Too many fish for 10 gallons... that Chinese Algae Eater is going to get HUGE,
if you've got the right name for it. Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, to be precise, up
to 35 cm/14 inches! Nasty and aggressive when mature, too. Oddly enough, not
from China and not a very good algae eater either. Other than being cheap,
there's nothing about them that's a positive so far as fishkeeping goes. Sold
entirely to beginners who don't know any better.>
Our feeding routine is, we feed frozen bloodworms every other day and flakes
every other day. I was originally told to feed to frog twice a week. The frog
doesn't eat the flakes, sometimes he tries them but spits them out immediately
but he is healthy looking and doesn't look underfed.
<So far... but they do starve easily.>
I think he may snack on the fry, the platys are breeding like crazy but haven't
produce many fry that survive since the frog moved in.
<Yes, they will eat sleepy fry given the chance.>
The conflicting information is maddening! I learned too late that the mollies
aren't ideal tank mates.
<Somewhat demanding fish.
Best kept alone, or with salt-tolerant species of similar size.>
I plan to buy a larger aquarium in a few weeks for the mollies and I'll put the
algae eater with them (although he never messes with the frog) and just keep my
platys and Cory cat with the frog. For the moment, everyone seems
to be healthy and happy. My question is, since it will likely be 2 months before
we get the bigger tank up and going, what can I do to keep everyone safe and
happy in the mean time?
<By being careful and not overfeeding. I'd lose the Chinese Algae Eater at the
earliest opportunity. Some pet stores will take back fish. Else try contacting a
fish club, who'll rehome it for you. In the UK, if that's where you are, the
Maidenhead Aquatics chain can usually be relied on to rehome fish if you ask
We really just love this little guy and I really want him to stay well.
Apparently I've done basically everything wrong so far.
<More through lack of research than ill-will, to be sure. But yes, not an
Also, I read that the frog can live 5 years but another site claims they can
live much longer. What is their live expectancy?
<On average, a few months because they almost always starve to death. But in the
right tank, 5 years would be a reasonable age. There may be some confusion on
websites with Xenopus, the African Clawed Frog, a similar but
bigger species than can live 10, 15 years or more without problems.>
Thanks for your help!
Omg my African dwarf
frog help 2/21/15
So I have a 1.1 gallon tank with a mystery snail a male crown
tail Betta and an African dwarf frog his name is flippers.
<1.1 gallons is too small, too little water... his world is toxic, too
much pollution in too small a volume of water, killing him...>
He was all fine swimming around earlier but I just found him upside down
on the bottom of the tank so I scooped him put and put him in a tiny
container with new water and stuck it in the tank but not exposed to the
rest of the water just so he can get the heat from the light.
<Heat from a light? Hmm... how to explain... aquaria should be heated
with an aquarium heater. Many are sold, of different designs and to
different budgets. Angle-poise and other lamps with incandescent and
halogen bulbs may produce some heat (but LED essentially none and
fluorescents very little) but aren't strong enough to warm water evenly,
and certainly won't
do so at night when they're off (obviously). Using lamps for heating is
(a) dangerous because the lamp doesn't switch off if the water gets too
hot, resulting in very hot surface water compared to the too cold water
at the bottom; and (b) are inefficient, wasting you money because while
they produce some (unreliable) heat, some electricity is used to make
well, which you don't especially need. Do please understand what animals
need before buying them... giving pets names is nice, and I'm sure you
care for your pet animals in terms of affection, but animals honestly
don't give a rip about these niceties. Food, warmth, shelter and a safe
(non-toxic) living environment are what animals need and care about.>
The beta and snail are fine,
<For now. To be fair, Apple Snails are subtropical and do fine in
unheated tanks indoors. Bettas are tropical fish, and don't live long in
unheated tanks, unless you happen to live in Thailand or somewhere like
in fact my snail has grown a lot in the while I had him.
There's algae on my tank but I figured itd just a plant it wouldn't hurt
anything. The frog isn't skinny I see him eat the Betta pellets
and frog food.
<Not just dried/pellet foods though. I hope you add some live or frozen
(not freeze-dried) foods into the mix. Otherwise constipation, bloating
and more serious problems await you.>
What would cause him to go from alive and fine to dead with in like 8
hours. The tank is dirty with algae is that what killed him?
<The short (and blunt) answer is ignorance. The long (and kinder) answer
is that you got the environment wrong. I know, I know, "But he was just
fine for weeks/months and the guy in the fish store said that a 1-gallon
tank was all I needed." So let's start with the basics. The three
beasties you're keeping can be kept together with a bit of planning.
Some Bettas nip
at Apple Snails, but if yours doesn't, great. But while the Apple Snail
might be kept in 1-2 gallons (I have done so without problems), and some
people keep Bettas in this amount of water as well (but I would not),
the African Dwarf Frog is a much more sensitive animal and needs much
more space. Shall we say 4-5 gallons? Something along those lines
also need heat, lots of it. A steady 25 C/77 F, which is mostly easily
supplied by a traditional aquarium heater. You can buy alternatives,
such as under tank heating mats, but plain old aquarium heaters,
specifically, a 25 Watt one in your case, could be had for little money
and unlike the lamp, would last many years, would heat the water evenly,
and cost very little to run. Next up, you need a filter. Some folks
insist these aren't necessary for Bettas and frogs, but mostly those
people have dead Bettas
and dead frogs after as few weeks or months, so we can ignore their
For sure some people keep Bettas in jars, but they're breeders in heated
fish rooms who change 100% of the water every day. Not practical if
you're a casual hobbyist who just wants a pretty pet fish. Get a filter.
An air-powered sponge filter is all you need, and better than a small
internal canister filter. Don't get a hang-on-the-back filter because
these have an opening through which Bettas often jump and frogs almost
always escape, winding up as dried "carpet jerky" as we say in the
trade. ADFs and other aquatic amphibians should never, ever be kept in
open-topped tanks unless such tanks are only half filled. Seriously. The
risk of them jumping out is extremely high. So, we've covered aquarium
size, heating, what else...?
Basically, that's it, beyond varying the diet. Dried foods are all well
and good, but just like humans eating processed foods all day, these
concentrated foods do tend to cause constipation and worse. So mix
things up a bit. Frozen bloodworms you keep in the freezer are
convenient and work nicely, though a very few people (surely less than 1
in 100) seem to have a
slight allergy to bloodworms. You don't need to actually touch the
worms, just hold the package over the tank, push out a block from
behind, then return the package to the freezer. Wash your hands
afterwards though. A safer alternative to bloodworms is brine shrimps.
Again, you can get these frozen (or for that matter live) and because of
the hypersaline places
they're grown, these are probably the safest food you're likely to
encounter, including human foods! Does this all make sense? Cheers,
Re: Omg my African dwarf frog help.... & Apple/mystery snail beh. f'
Also, not as important. I read that snails have breathing tubes. On my
snail there's two little things like he has a moustache
<Sensory tentacles, a mix of touch and taste receptors, used to find out
about his environment.>
but earlier it stuck this giant tube out of the water and did a heave
<Breathing. Apple Snails breathe air using a lung as well as having
gills to extract oxygen from the water. Typically, the warmer the water,
the more they breathe air. Sometimes it's a clue they're stressed, so if
your Apple Snail does this a lot more than usual, first check water
temperature (is it too warm, much over 25C/77F) and then check water
quality (an ammonia or nitrite test kit is used for this).>
Whats going on?
<Biology. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Omg my African dwarf frog help 2/21/15
Im in central Texas.
<Ah, so too cold most of the time for tropical fish, at least at night.
For most tropical fish, 25 C/77 F is the baseline, possibly a little
warmer for a few (Bettas, Angels, Discus and Gouramis for example, which
are good up to 30 C/86 F, a little cooler for a few (Danios, Corydoras,
Platies and Neons, all happier around 22 C/72 F).>
And the snail is a mystery snail.
<Mystery Snails and Apple Snails are the same thing, for all practical
purposes (there's some debate about which Pomacea species is which, but
they're all much of a muchness so far as maintenance goes. Apple Snails
seems to be the more popular name at the moment, and refers to their big
shell (which can get apple-sized after a few years, though very few last
long as a year in aquaria for a variety of reasons). Mystery Snails is a
much older name, said to be because the baby snails (which are quite
big, and hatch from eggs laid above the waterline) appeared in ponds
seemingly out of nowhere. I recommend breeding them when you get the
chance. It's a lot of fun, and the babies are rather cute (for baby
I've only had the frog for a month or so and no one nips at anyone, I
don't have room for a much bigger tank.
<Could I suggest not keeping fish or frogs then? The Betta and the snail
you'll get away with, assuming scrupulous care on your part. How to be
clear on this? The smaller the volume of water, the faster temperature
changes, and the quicker dissolved wastes (such as ammonia) cause
problems. Tropical fish really shouldn't be kept in tanks smaller than,
gallons, simply because keeping them in smaller tanks is either unfair
to them (e.g., you can't keep enough schooling fish for them to be
happy) or else causes physiological stress as conditions go bad. Could I
further suggest having a read here:
You do have some options for tanks upwards of 4-5 gallons, but they are
very specific beasties, in some cases with very specific needs.>
It has an under gravel filter and it stays in the bathroom, which is the
warmest room in the house.
<Good and good, but do see above re: temperature. Warm to you might not
be warm to a fish from Thailand. The ADF is perhaps less fussy, and okay
around 22 C/72 F, but no colder. Apple Snails are fine at room
temperature, even in the UK, let alone Texas. Measure maximum and
minimum water temperatures across the day and night using a thermometer,
midday and again just when you're getting up and before lights/heating
come on. If these fall outside the range required by the animals you're
keeping, well, get a heater!>
And I never turned the tank light off.
<Yikes! African Dwarf Frogs are largely nocturnal. That's when they do a
lot of their feeding. Also, light period (hours of light vs. hours of
darkness) are important for the well-being of animals generally (keeping
humans in bright light 24/7 is pretty close to torture, and at the
least, disorienting after a while). Constant lighting will also cause
It really does keep tank warm. And its waaaaay better then the
unfiltered beta bowl that the fish was in for a while.
<Ever have those discussions as a kid about which would be better, be
hanged or having your head cut off? Perhaps just us Brits with our
bloody mediaeval history! In any case, improving on a Betta (rhyming
with "better", not "beater") bowl is nice, but doesn't quite "get you
into the medals" as they'd say in sporting events. Truly, heating and
filtration are both going to make your aquatic livestock significantly
healthier in the long run.>
But uh thanks for the info....
<Aim to please. Or at least inform.>
Question: there is possibly a 2 to 5 gallon tank in my garage..... can I
use the under gravel filter in that even though it won't cover all of
<Nope. Water flows through the line of least resistance. So if you don't
evenly cover the filter, the water will mostly go through the exposed
part of the filter plate because that's "easier" than going through the
bed of gravel. Make sense? Since gravel costs virtually nothing, a buck
or two should be sufficient for enough to cover the undergravel filter
No need to go to an aquarium store to buy their expensive gravel. So
long as its lime-free, not sharp, and you don't mind rinsing it
thoroughly, then gravel from a garden centre will be just as good and a
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Omg my
African draw frog help
I bought testing strips
GH : 60
<Low general hardness. Not suitable for fish from hard water environments such
as Guppies, Mollies, Rainbowfish, Rift Valley cichlids, etc.>
KH : 80
<Low carbonate hardness. Look out for pH drops between water changes. Also,
animals with calcareous shells, such as snails and shrimps, may have a hard
time. Snail shells may develop distinctive pitting where the shell
PH : 7.5
NO^2 : 0
NO^3 : 25
Waiting for the thermometer a bit longer.
What do those levels mean.
Could they have killed my frog.
<Not directly. But variations in pH could. Nonetheless, some other cause seems
worth considering/more likely. Improper diet/insufficient food, for example.>
I cannot afford a bigger tank for another few weeks. So no more froggies until
I did however buy air stones to put in the filter tube... the pet shop guy said
it might put a little more oxygen.
<Sort of. But how they work is misunderstood. Airstones produce bubbles. As the
bubbles rise they pull water upwards. This creates a current that circulates
water from wherever the bubbles start (ideally, the very bottom of the tank) up
to the top. Oxygen actually gets into the water across the surface. Hardly any
gets in via bubbles. But splashing at the top of the water increases the surface
area a bit, increasing oxygen uptake. So while bubbles help, for best results
you want to make sure the bubbles are rising all the way up from the bottom of
the water column, not halfway down the tank or just below the surface.>
Should I return them or will they help anything for now?
<Aeration is always helpful. It's noisy though, so I prefer not to use it in
tanks where I want quiet, e.g., a bedroom. Better to not stock the tank too
heavily and/or rely on gentle ruffling of the water surface from an electric
Also bought something called a internal filter ceramic ring. It says it helps
maintain water quality by converting harmful waste into harmless compounds. What
do you think? Try or return?
<Do you mean ceramic rings or "noodles", less than a half-inch in length and
that you to stuff a bunch of them into a canister filter? These are certainly
useful. But just dumped in an aquarium they won't do much. They need to be in
the flow of oxygenated water to work. But an "internal filter ceramic ring" as
such, I've never heard of.>
Can you please tell me what the water quality strips numbers mean, whats normal.
How to fix if too high or low. The package wasn't very helpful.
<NH3, NO2 are ammonia and nitrite respectively. They must always be zero.
Anything above zero quickly becomes toxic and dangerous, 0.5 mg/l NH3 is lethal,
and 1.0 mg/l NO2 lethal. NO3 is nitrate. Adequate filtration and not
overstocking or overfeeding keep these at zero. Keep this as low as practical,
certainly below 40 mg/l, and the lower the better. Basically, water changes keep
this down. GH and KH are types of hardness, or dissolved
mineral content. In general terms, low levels of both is good for things like
tetras and barbs from soft water habitats, and high levels for things like
livebearers and Central American cichlids from hard water habitats.
The pH is the acidity of the water. Most community fish are fine between 6 and
8, so long as its steady, though soft water fish may not be happy above 7.5 and
hard water quickly get sick below 7.0. There's more to the numbers, as you can
find out here:
For your Betta, you're aiming for zero NH3 and NO2, a low NO3, a pH steady
somewhere between 6 and 8, and the two hardness levels aren't too important so
long as they're not extreme (your current values are fine).>
Thanks a bunches
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Omg my African draw frog help
I still don't understand why the frog died.
<See previous emails; his environment was wrong. Something, sooner or
later, would have killed him. Too much light, not enough heat, wrong diet,
harassment by other livestock... impossible to say for sure what went wrong
in this instance. ADFs are somewhat delicate and easily starved. While
widely sold, most have a short life expectancy once they get shipped out to the
retailers and passed onto the average hobbyist. They aren't community "fish" and
don't do well in community tanks.>
The first snail I had died too.
I took it to the pet store they said he wasn't dead but minutes later his flap
thing fell off.
<Been dead a while, then. The flap is called an operculum, by the way. Dead
snails stink, so it's pretty obvious when they've joined the choir invisible.
Pains me to say this, again, but Apple Snails aren't that easy to keep alongside
other animals. Oddly enough, the frog would actually be a pretty good companion.
But the Betta is a bit hit and miss. Even slight damage to the snail can lead to
rapid, fatal infections.>
But it makes me worry because that snail only stayed on the pink castle I have.
The fish doesn't touch it the new snail has been on it but he likes the walls.
The frog would sit in it. Is there a possibility there Could Be lead paint?
<Virtually no possibility unless you've been opening up cans of 50-year-old
paint and using it inside the fish tank. Seriously, lead hasn't been used in
paint for a very long time. The number of aquarium fish killed by lead paint
this century is probably zero. On the other hand, the number of fish (and frogs)
killed by misunderstanding their basic needs is surely in the millions.>
Especially because it's pink. Do you know of that's even regulated in the us.
<No idea. But assuming the US has similar standards to the UK, then lead paint
isn't currently sold.>
How would I even test for that?
<No need. Do also bear in mind that lead paint doesn't suddenly kill people. It
builds up in the body, over years even, causing incremental problems. I think
you're really grasping at straws here with the paint!>
Cause I have no idea why they both died. Cause if the water was fine then what
was it? Could it really seriously be the tank is too small.
<Yes. Most of the fish deaths among casual hobbyists largely come down to the
size of the tank, overstocking, or lack of adequate filtration. Really is that
simple. Kind of like obesity in people. There might be some for whom there are
genetic or whatever explanations beyond their control, but for the vast majority
of people obesity comes from eating too much and
doing too little exercise.>
They're getting a bigger one anyways.
<Then it's an academic discussion. Review the needs of African Dwarf Frogs
(nocturnal, fussy feeders, easily damaged) and plan accordingly. They're
actually cute and rather loverly pets, the males even croak a bit in the
evenings, but they aren't "easy" pets. Doubtless much written online, as well as
here at WWM.
Re: Omg my African dwarf frog help
Ok so im going to get a bigger tank in a week or two when I get some
I saw this awesome 8 gallon bowfront tank for 45 dollars with
everything: filter, heater, hood, lights.
You are not in the US are you?
They don't teach us the conversions in school for money, measurements,
temperature, anything. It seems like everywhere else knows
<Kinda-sort of. If you can use Google, you can do conversions. Type in,
for example, "10 US gallons in litres" and you'll get the litres! It's
If I were to just put the snail in there (keep the Betta in his own
lonely tank) how many African dwarf frogs could I put?
<Half a dozen, at least. Maybe more. Allow about a gallon each, plus a
couple gallons for the Betta. You can pretty much ignore the snail so
long as it doesn't die (dead snails pollute tanks very quickly).>
What about a 5 or a 10 gallon tank? I am not ready for the idea of snail
babies, but tadpoles...yes, but i want to research first. Besides the
males croaking how do I tell what gender the frogs are?
<Males tend to be smaller and more slender/less chunky. They also have
small pink spots near the armpit but these can be difficult to see,
especially in youngsters.>
How do I tell a snails gender? Do you think the pet store people could
accurately tell me a frog or a snails gender?
<Not a chance. But if you get 6-8 frogs, you're bound to get a few males
Are frogs and snails about equivalent when it comes to how many I could
put in a tank?
Do you have any good links on info of African dwarf frog breeding?
<Go online and type "breeding" and "Hymenochirus" into your search
engine of choice.>
Can my Betta stay in the 1 gallon tank and be ok?
<Possibly, but see above. I do honestly recommend a larger, heated,
filtered tank for Bettas, at least, if you want his and your life to be
I found out that if I turn on the heating lamp in the bathroom where the
fish tank is and cover the tank with a towel the temperature is fine.
And that the tank light does keep the tank warm enough during the day
without the heating lamp. Im still upset I don't have a straight forward
cause of death for the frog.
<Indeed. But the problem with environmental stress is that the immediate
cause of death doesn't tell you much about what went wrong. For example,
a drunk driver crashes into a tree, the tree falls down and kills him.
The cause of death was a tree hitting him, but that wasn't the reason he
Thanks for all your help,
<Most welcome. Neale.>
ACF with 4 claws
I have been lucky enough to have quite a few awesome frogs in my life but this
little guy I have now is really neat and I am curious about his features.
My little guy has four black claws. Reminds me of a 'double pawed' cat. The
fourth claw is teeny tiny and almost attached to the 'foot', it is not out on a
toe like the other claws. He also has amazing green eyes. Is
this normal? Google is failing me on the four claw search.
Thank you for your time!!
<In all likelihood you have a "sport of nature" as Darwin would call them, one
of those odd bits of genetic variation we see among animals and plants.
The raw material of evolution, in fact. But in any case, provided your beastie
is happy and healthy, I wouldn't be concerned. Of course if breeding was an
intention, you might elect not to breed from this specimen (most deformities are
not useful to the animal, and may in fact be harmful in the wild by reducing the
chances of survival somehow). But apart from that, just appreciate what's going
on here in terms of gene mutation,
reflect perhaps on how inbreeding causes problems among pet animals generally,
and keep an eye out on this frog to ensure he is healthy and able to keep up
with his tankmates in terms of feeding. Cheers, Neale.>
Looking for advice, ADF care 4/3/13
Thank you for all the wonderful, informative info you have on your site.
It is priceless! I am another victim of Pet Smart's uneducated
sales people. We came home with two African Dwarf Frogs 10 days
ago, and already one is dead. After poring over your website I
realize now that we did not have a big enough tank (2.5 is what they
told me to buy), we should have bought a heater (they said I didn't need
one) and furthermore we are over feeding and not giving them a diverse
<Do need all these>
I think the poor guy had that Red Leg disease. Thanks to WWM I am making
the hour trip to Pet Smart tomorrow to buy a bigger tank, a heater, sand
(instead of the gravel they sold me) and to get 2 new frogs.
<Wait on the livestock until this system is aged a few weeks... Cycled.>
They are taking back the dead frog and the guy that is still holding on,
but doesn't look too good. So now for my questions: how
should I safely transport the frogs back and forth to the store and to
<In a plastic bag, with some water, and just atmosphere, not pure
oxygen... sealed w/ a rubber band, in a light and thermally insulated
container (like a cooler) if possible, rather than just a paper bag>
It is a solid hour drive between the two. I am afraid that is one
reason why my frogs were not so healthy when I got them home.
Also, I thought you should know that Pet Smart printed out a whole
pamphlet for me on ADF that they publish. It says that the frogs
need temps between 68 and 78 degrees ( you say higher)
and to feed them pellets
two times a day (I believe you say every other day and to switch between
pellets and brine shrimp).
<Meaty foods of some sort/s>
There was additional information on their pamphlet that contradicts what
you say on your website.
Thanks so much for your help,
<... Please do review what we have posted/archived re Hymenochirus
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Looking for advice, ADFs, uncycled sys.
Thank you so much for your reply. Mi know how busy you guys must be.
Unfortunately, I got the email after I already went to PetSmart and
bought a bigger tank, a heater, and one new frog to replace the dead
one. There was one surviving frog from my original 2, so I kept
Anyway, bought all the new stuff, had my water tested and brought the
frogs home. My water tested perfect for everything that
you say they need. We have a well and not town water so
no chlorine. But I had both the conditioned tank water tested and
water straight from the tap. They were basically the same.
Bought guys home, set up tank, thermometer, filter, etc, did not
condition water and voila. 24 hours later one guy seemed
very lethargic. He hardly moved from this spot right against the
heater. I was worried he'd be burned, but the PetSmart folks said
the heater was safe.
I moved him a bit and he rested on a plant, but again, very lethargic.
This morning, 36 hours after bringing them home, both ADF are dead.
I am horrified and being that I am working so hard on this, I just don't
understand what I've done wrong. Let alone that my son is going to
The first frog that died last week definitely had Red Leg. I
didn't notice that on these guys.
<.... this system is still not cycled; is NOT ready for livestocking...
Read re on WWM and where you've been referred. B>
feeding Dwarf African Frogs 8/24/12
I have a dwarf African frog (obviously) and not in the best environment.
my 25g is medium planted with plenty of hiding places, but he shares the
tank with Amano, cherry, and ghost shrimp, 3 dwarf Mexican Crays,
countless red Ramshorn snails (getting fewer with the puffer), and a
<May bite the Hymenochirus>
that being said I feed the tank live blackworms (2-3x week), API Bottom
Feeder pellets (a few each day), and frozen bloodworms or brine shrimp
(alternate about every other day - but never on same day as blackworms).
The frog eats the frozen occasionally but always eats the blackworms
readily, even seems to hunt them. question is, is the frog fine
with eating "almost" exclusive blackworms?
<Not really, no>
I've read that they may be too fatty and fatten him up to the point its
hard for him to get to the surface?
<Mmm, please read here:
transporting my frogs to work, ADFs
I have 2 African Dwarf Frogs at home in one of those little units from
Brookstone, with a snail and a plant.
<Unfortunately for you, these kits are overpriced rubbish.
I have 2 more at work who up until yesterday were in the same setup
minus the snail. With no snail their watery world was getting pretty
green, so I moved them on up today to a 5 gallon aquarium along with
<The upgraded tank is definitely worthwhile. The bamboo not so much,
and really, not likely to do well in the long term. Another gimmick
You'd be far better off with a piece of bogwood with a Java fern or
Anubias attached. These don't need much light, and grow well under
water. Bamboo more sort of lingers, and without plant fertiliser,
The bamboo plant still has some algae on it, and I'd like to bring
the other 2 frogs and the snail in to join them. I am concerned about 2
things - how soon to do that so as not to overstress the millionaire
frogs, and 2, whether the snail and frogs will survive the 20 mile
commute to my office (or me, while trying to keep them from tipping
over and driving too!).
<If you transport the frogs safely, this should not cause them
Move the frogs into a large bucket or cooler with a lid. Cover them
with water, maybe an inch or two, but make sure there's plenty of
air above them. Close the lid, and then if its cold, put a towel or
something on the bucket to keep them warm. Drive to wherever. Set up
the new aquarium, fill with water, plug in heater and filter. Once the
water is at the right temperature, dribble small amounts into the
bucket, maybe a cupful every 10 minutes. After an hour you should have
at least doubled the depth of water the frogs are in. The frogs should
be acclimated to the new conditions, and can be netted out and popped
into their new home.>
Right now the frogs at home are in a nice clean tank and seem OK, but I
know it's like living in a pup tent for them and I see how
absolutely delighted the work frogs are in their new watery mansion.
Any advice on my 2 concerns? My goal is frog happiness and a snail to
do some clean up work at work!
<Do read here:
These animals aren't difficult to keep, and when kept properly,
will even produce tadpoles!>
One final question, if I bring in an algae eating fish like a mini
catfish, how soon should I do that for the new tank and what type of
algae eater would you recommend?
<There are no algae-eating fish suitable for a tank this size. The
retailer will doubtless sell you an Otocinclus, but that's a
schooling fish and very delicate, and not at all suitable for this
tank. The bigger algae eaters like Ancistrus are even less suitable.
Without fast-growing plants all tanks become algae-ridden, and nothing
beats an algae sponge or scraper.
Want less algae to scrape away? Then install bright lights and
fast-growing plants. That's really the only system that
Thanks so much!
Re: Need some advise, ADF sys. 2/11/10
Thank you. I have another question how many times should I change my
tanks water and how much of it?
<Do read here:
Answers to both questions are there! In fact, read the whole article,
and check you're keeping your frogs properly.
Question on African Dwarf Frogs, gen.
I work in a toy store and we received a shipment of frogs today. I
already hate the idea that these frogs are shipped to toy stores, I
have the idea even more when I open the package and find that they
company allowed the animals to be shipped in the cold weather, nearly
freezing them to death.
<Hmm... I agree, does sound a rather dubious sort of
Anyways, as I was distributing the frogs into their tanks, I came
across 3 frogs that were floating upside down when in their tanks, but
they were breathing and moving around when I removed them. I promptly
put them into a very shallow tank of water (about 1/4 in) to allow them
to warm up. When they were moving a little, I added some more water (it
was then about 1/2 in)... just enough to cover their bodies, but allow
them to breath without much effort. It took about 5 hours for them to
get a bit more active, but I took them home because I did not trust the
guys at the shop would not just flush them (as they had threatened when
the frogs arrived).
<Gosh! This shop does sound a bit harsh when it comes to
I have now moved them into a modified beta tank (1/2 gallon with lid
and ventilation that they cannot escape from) and they have variable
levels of water. I have an area just over an inch in depth and then
some rocks piled up so that they can relax and be near the surface. I
know that they will need a bigger tank and I have one ready, but I just
want to be sure they are alright before I transfer them. Now that you
have the back story, my question is this: they have been spazzing out
since I put them into the beta tank. (no beta, just 3 frogs) and I am
concerned that they are hurting or something.
<Wouldn't worry overmuch.>
The jump on each other, try to jump out of the tank, hit their little
noses on the wall, and just flail about. They simply will not sit
<They are active animals, and they may well be hungry.>
It is now 10 pm and they have been at it for about an hour now (since I
transferred them). Is this normal behavior or should I be concerned
that they are drowning or something?
<They won't drown.>
They are all still all upright, but very much acting crazy. BTW, we
used spring water from the market, the same water we had used with all
the other frogs at the store.
<Spring water may or may not be ideal, depending on its chemistry.
Frogs need hard, basic water. Often tap water is best. If your kettle
furs up or you know your local water is hard, then dechlorinated tap
water will be fine, and far better than softened water of any kind.
These frogs are tropical animals, so they won't last long at room
temperature; aim for 25 C (about 77 F).>
I would appreciate any help you can give me as I am very new to owning
any amphibious creature.
<Do read here:
<Good luck! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Question on African Dwarf Frogs 11/21/09
Well all 3 frogs died last night.
I had been keeping their water around 72,
<Too cold for Hymenochirus spp.; these are tropical animals that
need tropical temperatures, i.e., a tank with a heater.>
They were acting like they could not get any air so I added more gravel
to the tank to give them less work getting their heads out of the
<They can certainly drown if the water is too deep (more than about
30 cm) but the key thing is that strong water currents and/or overall
weakness will make drowning more probable. Small specimens are best
kept in shallow water (say, 10 cm) until you're sure they're
strong enough to swim to the surface. Even then, having some floating
plants, like Indian Fern, where they can rest close to the surface is
very, very helpful.>
They have not eaten since I got them (about 2 days ago), they would not
even pay attention to the food.
<Often don't care for dried/pellet foods -- use live or
wet-frozen things like bloodworms initially.>
I feel just awful because I was trying to save them from a bad
situation, but they died anyways.
<You did the best you can...>
Was it something I did, or do you think they were already destined to
die when they got shipped in freezing cold water?
<The latter certainly didn't help.>
I have always wanted to have an aquarium and I like little animals like
frogs and lizards, I am just afraid that I do not know well enough how
to care for them since I could not keep 3 little ones alive. What do
<Hymenochirus spp. frogs are actually very, very easy to keep
provided you "go by the numbers". A 10-gallon tank, initially
half filled with water, with an air-powered sponge filter, a small
heater, and a clump of Indian Fern would be a cheap, easy way to keep
them alive. Buy a few wet-frozen foods from the pet store: bloodworms,
brine shrimps, Tubifex, mosquito larvae. Rotate between them, feeding
every other day (done this way, such foods will last six months or
more, so this is a very cheap option).
Augment the diet with pellets once the frogs are feeding readily. If
you're happy the frogs are settled and able to swim to the top,
fill the tank up normally. They could easily be mixed with Cherry
shrimps and novelty snails like Nerite snails and Tylomelania snails,
so you could create a nifty "critter" aquarium. Add a school
of some very small fish suitable for a 10 gallon tank, like
Norman's Lampeyes or Least Killifish, and you'd be all set!
African Dwarf Frog: Questions, Reading
I am getting an African Dwarf Frog soon. Could you please tell how to
care for these guys??
<Many pages have been written on this subject: Do read here:
Thank you very much!!
P.S I've heard that African Dwarf Frogs can swallow pebbles if they
are small enough. Are regular aquarium pebble too small for them??
<Read my friend.>
African Dwarf Frog, lonely? 4/8/09
I am hoping you will be able to help with all of your combined
<Do our best.>
I've had a little African dwarf frog for about two weeks and
he's become lethargic the past four days or so.
<Hymenochirus spp. are quite sensitive animals, and rather more
difficult to maintain than the subtropical Xenopus many of us will have
seen at school or in labs.>
He lives alone in a one gallon tank and I am wondering if he is lonely.
Is that a possibility?
<Not lonely, no. But could be suffering from lack of swimming space,
poor water quality, inadequate water temperature, or any of the myriad
other problems that occur when trying to keep frogs (or fish) in what
basically jam jars. Minimum sensible tank size for this species is 5
He seems in good condition physically, no wounds or sores. And he has
shed his skin once already.
He's been fed HBH pellets, as he didn't do so well with frozen
and dried bloodworms which did not sink and he was unable to find.
His appetite isn't great, he eats about two pellets every day. Some
of the information I've read seems to think that is normal, so I am
not too worried about that.
<It is true that they aren't "big" eaters. That said,
pellets aren't the best staple, and you'll have best results
using (wet) frozen bloodworms, thawed out before use. Feed enough for
the frog to be gently rounded but
not swollen after eating. Freeze-dried food is as good as useless
frankly, being both massively overpriced and also prone to causing
constipation. No idea why anyone buys the stuff.>
The water temperature is around 70-72 and I've treated the water
(which I let sit out over-night) with dechlorinator which also includes
some protection for the skin.
<Too cold. These are tropical frogs, and should be maintained around
25 C/77 F. A heater is mandatory, unless of course you happen to live
in equatorial Africa!>
I've also provided him with plenty of hiding spaces and he's
not too far away from the surface to reach the air.
So my concern is that he hasn't been swimming around much or active
like he was for the first week.
<Most of these dwarf frogs quickly die because people buy them
without supplying the right environmental conditions.>
I did change 25% of the water (and cleaned the rocks since there was
excess food from me trying to figure out how much he would be
He just seems uncomfortable and a little unhappy. He does not respond
like he used to, and he doesn't seem to be afraid of being scooped
up by the net like he was initially.
Any ideas or thoughts?
<Use a bigger, heated tank. Make sure it is filtered. Do 25% water
changes weekly. Use (wet) frozen and live foods every other day.
Provided you do all these things, he should recover quickly. If not,
doomed. Hope this clears things up, Neale.>
Re: African Dwarf Frog, lonely? 4/9/09
Thank you very much, Neale.
<You're welcome, Erin.>
The thawed, frozen bloodworms are hard for him to find since they
don't sink, even when I put them in with a turkey baster. Any other
Something live maybe?
<Live bloodworms will certainly be eaten. But frozen bloodworms
should sink (the ones I use usually do) but do try stirring briskly to
remove any air bubbles trapped in their bodies. If that doesn't
help, switch to a
different brand. Most people find frozen bloodworms work well, so
I'm surprised you've had this problem.>
I had read in a number of places that one gallon was plenty for ADFs
and that they were one of the few aquatic animals that would be happy
in a small tank.
<A lot of people underestimate the amount of space fish, frogs and
turtles require, and you'll see many, many messages here about
problems people have had ultimately caused by this critical error.
One-gallon tanks are difficult to heat and filter properly, and the
small volume of water will be very susceptible to sudden pH and
temperature changes. These can stress livestock severely, potentially
kill them. A five-gallon tank is a good minimum size for these frogs,
and would certainly allow you the potential to keep, say, three
specimens without worrying too much about water quality issues.>
It makes me very sad to think that I've caused him harm by keeping
him in a home that is too small. Most of the "experts" I
spoke with said the home I gave him should be perfect.
<Were the experts selling you anything? Advice from pet stores can
often be somewhat biased in terms of making a sale. As always, advice
collected online from web pages and forums should be viewed with a
I will take one of the plants out and give him more space to swim while
I work on upgrading his habitat.
Re: African Dwarf Frog, lonely? 4/9/09
No, they weren't trying to sell me anything, the bowl with all the
stuff to go inside was a gift from my little cousins, so I felt
obligated to use it.
<Ah, I see. A thoughtful gift, but as is often pointed out, pets
aren't the best presents because of the responsibility and expense
often associated with them.>
So, I researched what could live in it comfortably... talk about
<Perhaps... but I hope you'll see an upgrade to the environment
as an investment, and in the long term will derive pleasure from these
I sincerely thank you for all of the advice, and I'm sure
"Sunny", the ADF, feels the same way. You've been a great
<Happy to help. Good luck, Neale.>
African dwarf frogs... care/sys. -- 09/14/07
Hello, My friend works at a fish store and has an ADF and he said that
he takes his frog out of the water for a less than ten minutes every
now and then. I have one too but I don't want to hurt him in
anyway. But at the same time I wouldn't mind hanging out with him
outside the water. Is that okay? or should I not take him out at all
and put the thought out of my mind? thanks, Claire <Claire, your
friend is completely wrong to remove his frog from the water. No
amphibian should ever be handled except where absolutely essential
because their skins are very sensitive and easily damaged. This goes
double for aquatic amphibians because they have thinner skins than
terrestrial amphibians as well as less robust skeletons. So tell your
friend to stop handling his frog! If he wants something to cuddle, he
should go buy a cat. Cheers, Neale>
African dwarf frogs -- 09/19/07 I have a feeling you are
going to tell me to get a dog... however can I touch the frog at all?
<No.> maybe gently rub his/her belly or the top? <No. For an
amphibian, the skin is sort of like the lungs, because they breathe
through them. So, imagine how much fun it would be I decided to stick
my fingers up your nose and down your throat just to show I cared. Yuk.
There is a very real chance you petting a frog will damage its skin,
partly through friction, and partly through using too much force.>
Or should I just leave them alone and let them do their thing? <Yes.
Animals become *your* friend when you treat them well. Animals love
routine, so habituate your pets to seeing you at the same time, being
fed at the same time, being given food in the same corner of the tank.
Eventually they will learn that you are A Good Thing and will respond
accordingly. Trying to force things we like, such as being touched,
onto animals that aren't tactile, like frogs, is
counter-productive. As far as the frog is concerned, you're a huge
predator that grabs hold of it.> I'm asking because I think mine
are so cute I always want to play with them. <Resist the urge! There
are some amphibians that learn to be hand fed (ideally with tweezers or
else wet fingers), and those you might consider getting. Tiger
Salamanders are a good example. But for the most part, amphibians are
"look but don't touch" pets. This largely holds for
reptiles, too, though I've known tortoises that liked sitting on
people's feet to keep warm!> Sorry for asking so many questions.
And thanks for your help. Claire <Good luck with your pets, and keep
asking questions! People go wrong when they think they know it all --
there's plenty for everyone to learn about keeping pets. Read,
learn, and enjoy. Cheers, Neale>
Re: African dwarf frogs -- 09/19/07 Thanks for replying!!!
I'll tell him. I've decided to have a solely only frog tank so
I will probably be contacting you in the future. Have a wonderful day
Claire <Cool. Good luck with your pet(s). Cheers, Neale>
African dwarf frogs 8/24/05 Hi, have a
question. I have searched your site &
do not see a similar problem. I have
2 ADF in a 2.5 gallon tank, with a filter
running. We first bought pellet
food, then found out through research online they should be fed frozen
bloodworms. <... and other meaty live, non-live foods>
Purchased those 3 days ago now, feeding them
pea-sized amount every other day (is this correct???) <Best to look
at their "tummies"...> My
main question is an odor. <Interesting>
It's gotten milder/better since switching from
pellets, but it still is unpleasant. Had
water checked at the petstore, they said water levels are
fine. Should we do a partial water
change to see if there's disintegrated pellet food causing
odor? <Yes... should do these change-outs weekly...>
suggestions? My pet peeve is pet
stores selling these frogs with zero info on feeding, correct water
levels, cleaning of tanks,
etc. Thanks for the help, Lisa
<Thank goodness for books, magazines, the Net... Bob Fenner>
Dwarf African Frogs Don't Eat - 02/22/07 I'm
worried about my two African Dwarf Frogs and appreciate any
help. The tank is a 2.5 gallon, with rocks and two
small ornaments, all levels check out ok, temp is right on. One of the
frogs has a big tummy, he eats everything and always seems
hungry. We have curtailed his diet and waiting for his tummy
to shrink before indulging him more. The other frog
doesn't seem to want to eat. He is much skinnier and it didn't
appear as though he was eating at all, so we put in him a little
holding tank in the same tank to monitor if he
eats. It's been at least a week under observation and he
has eaten. The contrast in behavior worries me, is this sort
of thing normal? Thanks for any help! < Only feed your frogs if they
are moving and in search of food. Too many times frogs are over fed and
the food rots in their stomach and causes gas and other digestive
problems. Offer them a washed small earthworm. make sure it is alive
and wiggling. If they don't eat that then they are not going to
eat. Keep the tank clean and increase the water temp to 80 F and see if
that makes any difference.-Chuck>
Frog Legs for Dinner? Hymenochirus beh., sys.
2/22/07 Thanks again, Pufferpunk. <No problem>
I'll return Jet this weekend so he can mix with his own
kind. Now I have a question about the frogs, Slim and
Chance. They used to be so cute every evening, swimming and playing and
crashing into things. But lately they've become
reclusive and sluggish. I really don't think I feed them
too much but they aren't as eager for their food anymore, which is
those delicious Frog and Tadpole Bites. I've given them
frozen bloodworms a time or two, but not many at a time. I
shook them (gently) out of their hidey holes tonight so I could
photograph them to show you how normal they look. Do you
think the light is too much for them? It's just your standard 150W
bulb. <Not if you plan on boiling them for
dinner. Sounds like an awful lot of light for that
tank. I would think a 60wt bulb would be enough to warm up a
5g tank. What's the temp in there?> At one time I had
some floating plants in there, and that diffused the light
some. But I took all the live plants out and replaced them
with fake because the live ones were rotting and stinking up the
water. What do you think? Am I just being a
worrier (a general tendency of mine)? <Probably too hot for even the
plants. Check the temp--should be around
Is a 30 Gal tank too deep for African Dwarf Frog?
2/14/07 Hi everyone, I LOVE your site and have learned much from
reading the cache of questions in it. However even after searching, I
still have one question in my mind about my African Dwarf Frogs.
<Okay> I have a 30 Gallon standard Eclipse
aquarium. It has 16 Neons, 2 Otos, several live plants, and
3 African Dwarf Frogs. I know that it's hard to keep all
of these alive together but I have done it successfully in the past in
a long 20 gallon tank for about 4 years. I have an extra
tank available just in case those darn Neons come down with fin rot;
which to my memory they seem to do when the wind blows the wrong
direction! <Mmm, not so much in warm/er, acidic water> However
after reading many articles on the little froggies, I am wondering if
this set up is not good for them. A lot of people have
smaller tanks for their frogs, and there seems to be an
opinion online that larger tanks will cause the frogs too
much stress trying to swim up to the top for air. <Is a good
question, consideration> So, will my frogs be ok in a tank this
deep? <Yes, should be fine... some folks with more aggressive fishes
might be a concern (hence am glad you list the other livestock) as the
frogs go up/down for breaths> its a standard rectangular 30 Gallon
eclipse tank. they seem to be happy, and swim up and down a lot. At
times it seems they may be struggling against the current from the
filter, but whenever they need air they bolt up to the top as if they
were a bullet. So i have the impression that they are happy
and just playing in the water. Though, I just want to make
sure that they aren't struggling and waiting to the last moment to
get their air as a result. I would hate to think they are drowning
while I think they are enjoying themselves! They don't spend any
time floating on top, and they actively crawl around the bottom and
actively hunt for the brine shrimp I distribute on the bottom in front
of them with a never used in the kitchen turkey baster. It seems to
work well if I feed the other fish a little to distract them when I
feed the froggies. In short: My frogs SEEM happy. They do
swim around a lot. At times they just sit, and once in a great while
hide under the moss plant. Will a tank that is about 15
inches high, with a mildly strong current from the bio filter be ok for
them? Thanks for any information you provide. David <Think
you're fine here. BobF>
African Dwarf Frog TADPOLES!!! Need help...pretty
please?? - 02/09/2007 Hey there ya'll, <Christa>
My name is Christa, and I have a total of three
(3) ADF's'¦two (2) in one tank all by themselves (And
Fishy Furniture of course) and the other one is in our 20 gallon tank
with a few fish and a pleco. The reason for my request for
information is this'¦ It was time for
a partial water change in Waldo and Newbie's tank. (the two
ADF's that live together) I know that I have a male and
a female, because I have seen them mate
before. However'¦I got these two little cuties when
they were the size of a small peanut, and since the males do not reach
sexual maturity until after the 6 month mark, I didn't have any
tadpoles that produced from their frolicking.
Well'¦later on that night, after I did
the water change, I noticed they were mating. I didn't
really pay it any mind, since there has been no 'luck' in the
past. (Boy was I wrong!!) The next morning when I
woke, I walked downstairs to turn all the tanks on and feed everyone,
and low-and-behold, there were hundreds of little eggs throughout the
floating grasses at the top of the water and clinging to all sides of
the hexagon-shaped tank. <Neat> I
discussed maybe raising them, with my boyfriend. (who is more the
nature-type than myself'¦ just being
honest. I'm a City-Girl.) He asked me a very
good question'¦ 'What in the world did I intend to do with
all the baby frogs?' So, I spoke with a local Fish and
Supply store here in our neighborhood and asked if they would be
interested in taking them off my hands (most of them anyways'¦
I would like to keep a few) when they are a little older and much to my
surprise, he said he would love too. <Oh yes... are good sellers>
So the journey has begun!! Yeah!! I can't
wait to watch this. I've never seen anything like this
before. Again'¦'City Girl'.
So the little-guy's have hatched, and are
swimming around with itty-bitty tails. It only took about 3
days!! I have received many ideas as to what to feed them,
such as lightly steamed zucchini, lightly crumpled lettuce that has
been sitting in room temp water for 4-6 days, someone even said regular
old fish flakes. <Mmm, yes... and perhaps a bit of
"cultured" algae... "Nori, Kombu"... from Asian
food stores or the area in your food stores...> I am open for
anymore suggestions. I also understand that they need fresh
water and just how important this is to their survival. <A good idea
to make quite frequent small change-outs... ten percent every few
days...> To The Point
Your web site has been rather helpful in
raising my ADF's. However, I can't seem to get an
answer to a few questions I have on raising these teeny-tiny
tadpoles. And I mean Teeny-Tiny!! I have these
little fellas (tadpoles) in a 2.5 gallon hexagon shaped tank with a
filter that suctions from the bottom, and there's a clear cylinder
in the back with bubbles that rise from the bottom. I really
don't know what kind of filtration systems it is called, so I tried
my best to describe it. My questions are these'¦
<Best to use a "sponge" or foam filter here... See Eheim
or Jungle Laboratories sites re...>
1. Should I turn the filter
off? They are going for one heck-of-a roller coaster ride
when they are swept around by the rising bubbles. <Yes... I would
switch to the filtration method mentioned above... or an
"open" (top off) box filter with just Dacron filter
media...> 2. How often
should I feed them? You can't really tell with their
tummies. They don't have any yet. <Daily... I would
keep food present most all the time>
3. How warm should I have the
temperature set at? It is at 78 degrees right now. <This
is fine... put the term "Hymenochirus culture" in your search
tools...> 4. Should I leave
the light on all night? Someone told me that they thrive on
the micro-organisms that grow in the water and this promotes the
growth? True or False?? <Mmm... do need, use
"infusoria" but I would turn the light off regularly>
5. What should I really be
feeding them? The suggestions I've gotten sound a little
weird. <See, weed through the above search...>
6. How often do I need to do a partial water change
for these little guys? <Often... as stated above> So, that's
about it. Thanks for keeping this web site up and
operational. It has been a great source of valuable and
extremely hard to find elsewhere information. New
Tadpole Mommy Manassas, VA <I do wish we had more
on this species, the whole Order, much MUCH for other groups... In
time... And congratulations on your efforts. Bob Fenner>
HELP!!! Sick maybe injured ADF 2/5/07 I have 4 ADFs in
my tank along with 6 platys, 2 mystery snails, 2 ghost shrimp and a pleco. I have 1 teaspoon of salt per 5 gallons of water. <... frogs,
the snails... don't "like" salt...> I originally had
one frog and it seemed to do ok with the salt and everything else, so I
decided to get the other three. I have had the others now for about 2
or 3 months. We just noticed yesterday that one of the newer ones
looked like he was shedding. <Mmm, Hymenochirus do this...> We
have seen them shed before so we didn't think anything of it,
except that it wasn't trying to get it off of himself like they
normally do. Then he started swimming up and we noticed that he has
some kind of injury on the underside of him. Almost the whole right
side (left side to us when we are looking at it) is sunken in. Almost
like he was crushed. We had to run some errands and when we got back we
could see the stuff that looked like his shedding skin was gone, but it
looks like he has a fungus growing on his back. It looks kind of lumpy,
too. I searched your site and found some stuff dealing with the fungus,
though I'm not sure if that's even what is on my frog, but I
didn't find anything like the injury so please if you could help I
would appreciate it. Also, if I have to I would like to know of a good
humane way to euthanize him if I can't nurse him back to health.
Thank you in advance. <I would start to dilute the salt/s in the
water... and look into "Sulfa" drugs (see WWM re this term...
the search tool)... 250 mg./ten gallons... Bob Fenner>